The US Department of State has provided the Djiboutian navy with two high-speed aluminium coastal security boats to strengthen Djibouti’s maritime security capabilities in order to protect its borders and combat piracy, smuggling and terrorist threats.
During a boat delivery and turnover ceremony at the Djibouti Navy Headquarters, Escale Marina, on April 4, more than a dozen Djiboutian sailors received certification for the patrol boats.
“On the occasion of receiving two speedboats, I thank our US forces partners for their support in the development of our navy,” said Colonel Abdourahman Aden Cher, Djibouti navy commander.
The boats, Metal Shark 28 Defiants, follow the recent implementation of Djibouti’s 12 nautical mile-reaching Regional Maritime Awareness Capability system and Automatic Identification System receivers that enable detection of maritime activities within about 100 nautical miles, US Africa Command said. These assets enhance Djibouti’s maritime security capability to monitor the more than 20,000 vessels that transit annually through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
“Geographically, we are a nation of the sea,” Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Daher Djama, Djibouti Navy deputy commander, said. “The centre of gravity of the Djiboutian economy is the sea, so navy capability to protect our nation is critical in safeguarding our common interests of protecting the liberty and the life of Djibouti and America.”
The US Embassy’s security cooperation chief agreed. “Djibouti is a key partner in the region,” US Army Major Joseph Guido, said. “They’re in kind of a difficult neighbourhood with Eritrea, Somalia and Yemen being neighbours, and it is critical Djibouti has the capacity it needs to effectively control its borders.”
Djibouti’s (off-shore) jurisdiction is 12 nautical miles from its coastline, Djama noted, and Yemen is 16 nautical miles from Djibouti, at the nearest point.
Overall, Guido stressed the importance of continually fostering the partnership between Djibouti and the U.S. given the volume of commercial and Navy traffic going through its straits.
“Djibouti has proven to be the eye of calm in the hurricane that revolves around them,” Major Guido said. “Our partnership is very strong and the Djiboutian navy development program is robust.”
Overall, Colonel Abdourahman said he considers the turnover of the two boats an important milestone in the US assistance in defeating violent extremist organizations and transnational threats, and in strengthening Djibouti’s ability to promote security and maintain stability as an independent nation and a key player in the Horn of Africa region.
“Indeed, with the radar surveillance system and the acquisition of the fast patrol boats provided by the United States, these two stars will strengthen our actions, interventions and identifications of suspicious activity,” Colonel Abdourahman said.